Ashley Audrain used to be on the other side of book publishing when she worked as publicity director with Penguin Canada, but the first-time author hit the jackpot when her buzzy psychological suspense novel, ‘The Push’, reportedly garnered her a $3 million two-book deal across more than 20 countries and attention from Hollywood. ‘The Push’, which came out Tuesday, is an unsettling tale of a mother who begins to wonder if her young daughter Violet has a dark side.
The book has generated positive reviews in the U.K.’s Guardian, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jan/02/the-push-by-ashley-audrain-review-the-dark-side-of-motherhood" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">which described it</a> as “well thought out, carefully crafted, vividly realized and gripping,” and the New York Times, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/books/review/the-push-ashley-audrain.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">which said</a> “Audrain has a gift for capturing the seemingly small moments that speak volumes about relationships.” “It’s as surreal as you might expect it to be, to be honest,” Audrain told CTV’s Your Morning of her journey as an author. “It’s an absolute dream come true.” Audrain said she has always been fascinated by motherhood -- the question of why women do it, how it changes them, and what the experience is really like. “You know -- how we’re told it would be, how we’re taught we should feel, even sort of the language we’re supposed to use around the experience of motherhood - I really wanted to explore that in fiction,” she said. She experienced it first hand several years ago when she had her first child, who was born with health issues and spent a month at Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital after birth. That “really had me looking at motherhood quite differently and sort of examining those expectations.” While the novel, which focuses on a mother who believes there is something wrong with her daughter but is doubted by those around her, is not autobiographical in any way, ‘The Push’ does explore what happens when a character’s expectations of motherhood do not match the reality. She spent three years writing it. After she sent her manuscript out, Audrain was prepared to wait months before hearing back. Instead, one agent whom she had sent the manuscript to -- Madeleine Milburn -- emailed her later that same day, saying she was hosting a dinner party that evening but just wanted her guests to go home so she could finish reading. “Which I took as a pretty good sign,” said Audrain, who is the mother of two young children, aged three and five. “I just signed with Madeleine. She’s incredible and she really just lit the match that kind of turned into what it is. It was an incredible moment I’ll never forget.” Shortly after the book sold to publishers last summer, Hollywood producers for film and TV came knocking as well with multiple offers. Rights were ultimately sold to David Heyman, who did the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise, as well as Marriage Story and the Paddington films. “It was just such a strange, wild and wonderful summer,” Audrain said.